Monday 20 January 2020

Liam Miller tribute match set to go ahead at Páirc Uí Chaoimh alongside hurling curtain raiser

Tomorrow's game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh is a sell-out
Tomorrow's game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh is a sell-out
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

THE GAA is on Saturday expected to clear the way for the controversial Liam Miller tribute soccer game to go ahead in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, barring a late hitch.

The match is expected to be part of a joint venture, also featuring a hurling game, with income shared between the Miller fundraiser and deserving GAA causes in Cork.

The GAA’s Management Committee were due to discuss the final package last night, prior to putting it before a specially-convened Central Council meeting in Croke Park this morning, where full details will be revealed.

It brings to an end 10 days of controversy, during which the GAA came under enormous pressure to change the interpretation of the rule on the use of grounds.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross led the campaign to force the GAA to make the 45,000-capacity Páirc Uí Chaoimh available for the game after it became clear that Turner’s Cross would not be big enough. Cork City’s ground holds only 7,000.

An initial application had been turned down on the basis that, under the rules as they currently stand, only Croke Park could be made available for non-GAA sporting activities.

However, with the addition of a hurling game, the Páirc Uí Chaoimh fundraisers will be re-classified as a community event which does not break GAA rules.

The match is pencilled in for September 25. The former Ireland international died following a battle with cancer at the age of 36 earlier this year.

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The GAA had been widely criticised for its stance, with former Irish international Damien Duff branding GAA management “dinosaurs” for their stance.

Mr Ross has also been vocal on the issue but it’s understood that other Ministers and opposition politicians also applied pressure on the GAA privately.

There are now concerns that the controversy could have long-term repercussions for GAA funding after Mr Ross said this week that it would be contingent on amenities being made available to other groups.

“It will be a factor, a very significant factor in giving future funding that the facilities are used for the benefit of the community as well as those who get the funding,” he said.

Speaking earlier this week, Minister of State for Sport Brendan Griffin echoed Mr Ross’s comments. Mr Griffin said it was his belief that the controversy “hasn’t been the GAA’s finest hour”.

He said the €30m in taxpayers’ money given to the GAA for the €70m redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh was subject to a belief the facility would be made available for community events. Mr Griffin said there was a widespread view that the refusal of the GAA to sanction use of the new stadium for the fundraising soccer match goes against the spirit of the deal.

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